You Might Want to Fact-Check Your Pastor’s Sermon

[This illustration I heard is a...] great story about the power of a good deed. There’s just one problem: Almost nothing about this story is true. It’s one of the most popular myths about Churchill, according Snopes.com and the Downers Grove, Illinois-based Churchill Centre.

How do I know this?

During the sermon, I stopped listening to the pastor and instead turned my eyes on my cell phone. Something about the story just didn’t sit right — it was too good to be true. So whatever spiritual lesson I was supposed to learn in the sermon was soon overshadowed by the wisdom of a Google search.

Things get even worse when a pastor starts quoting statistics…

Read on here.

Preachers love to drop statistics and historical tidbits into their sermons. Too bad so many of their facts are untrue.

 

Research: Americans Prefer In-Person Preaching to Video

So do the rest of us, no doubt.

Most Americans still prefer a real-live preacher to a video sermon, according to a survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

About a third (35 percent) say they will only visit churches with a live sermon.

Three in 10 say a video sermon won’t keep them from a church, but they still prefer live peaching. The same number say live or video sermons are fine.

Less than one percent prefer to watch a video sermon.

“I don’t think anyone gets up on a Sunday morning saying, ‘Boy, I’d really like to watch a video sermon,’ ” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research and author of Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement’s Next Generation. “But the fact that many churches utilize video sermons means other factors such as relationships, preaching approach, music, relevance, and location can be more important.”

[...]

 

The Best Preacher I Ever Had

A post I saw in the NCR:

I have been thinking about the best preacher I ever heard.  Not about the single best homily or sermon, but about the best and most consistent preaching I have encountered.

When it comes to preaching, we all have our horror stories and I have done my fair share of grumbling.

But rather than focus on the bad preaching, I have been thinking about what makes the good preaching good…

So what is it about the best preaching I ever had and what about it made it consistently good?

As I thought about it, I kept coming back to one particular priest that week in and week out offered good solid preaching.  I realized that he was the best preacher I ever had.  So what about his preaching made it so good?  Well, no one particular thing.  I have tried to distill certain elements of his preaching and other good preaching to come up with a list of things I think are at the root of it.

—He rarely gave a homily more than 10 minutes long.  Most of the homilies were in the 7-9 minute range.

—Every homily he gave was prepared in advance (with obvious care) and he worked from notes.

—He did not walk around during his homilies, but rather stayed put at the pulpit referencing his aforementioned notes but never reading.

—He spoke in a clear, assertive, and masculine style that avoided any misplaced interrogative lilt, the fake soft voice (think Harry Reid), or the sing-songy style so common today.  In short, he spoke as one with authority.

—His brief homilies and sermons generally sought to make a single point and to make it well.  He avoided the temptation to tangents and humorous asides.  Any stories or quotes served to illustrate the main thrust of his sermon.

—And perhaps most of all, his homilies and sermons were all theologically solid, teaching unequivocally what the Church teaches.  They were never fire and brimstone just as they were never soft-pedaled.  There is no greater sign of love than plain truth stated plainly.

I believe that his consistent application of the above principles and methods resulted in consistently good (and sometimes great) preaching.  Just as we emulate saints to be more holy, priests looking to become better preachers can emulate those who are so good.

I am not saying that there is only one way to do it, but my experience has shown me that consistent application of these sound principles will result in consistently sound preaching…

 

20 Questions to Ask Before Preaching Your Christmas Sermon

Propreacher has them.

Dear Pastor,

Your Christmas sermon is a big deal!

The eternal destination of many who will sit in your Christmas service hang in the balance.

Are you ready?

Here are 20 questions that you should ask yourself before you preach this Christmas:

1. Have I prayed over my message, completely given it to God, and asked for the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

2. Have I faithfully interpreted God’s Word without addition or subtraction?

3. Is there a clear, direct presentation of the Gospel?

4. Do I need to explain or simplify any terminology?

5. Is this a message written for believers or non-believers?

6. Can I summarize the purpose of the message in a sentence?

7. Is the message focused on the purpose or are there unnecessary tangents?

8. What do I want people to do as a result of hearing this message?

9. How do I want people to feel as a result of hearing this message?

10. Is it too long?

11. Have I included anything that will make people laugh?

12. Have I included any engaging stories or illustrations?

13. Is there anyone I could (or should) ask for feedback on this before I preach?

14. What have I done to equip my people to invite people to hear the message?

15. Who have I personally invited to come hear this message?

16. Have I asked my church to be praying for the salvation of others, and have I personally done the same?

17. What is my strategy for getting people to come back to hear the next message?

18. Is there any sin in my life that I need to repent of before I call others to repent?

19. Have I fully prepared and practiced?

20. Is this the absolute best I can do?